Saturday 16th May saw the first Worcestershire BHS event of 2015 start the summer’s programme in glorious sunshine, albeit accompanied by a somewhat chilly wind. That didn’t deter the twelve participants, the majority of which were ready and waiting to start even before we had unloaded all the bits and pieces and built the course!
This is the third year that we have decided to hold horse agility days and they still prove to be the most popular events we have ever put together. This is reflected in the fact that all places were sold within 4 hours of the day being advertised back at the end of February.
To the uninitiated, horse agility is carried out on foot with the horse or pony in hand, rather than the participant being mounted. It is aimed at creating a bond and build up of trust between horse and handler and It is suitable for horses and ponies of all ages and sizes and handlers of all ages and abilities.
This year saw horses and ponies of sizes ranging from an enormous friendly shire cross called Bertie, down to Freddie the Shetland, who is now becoming a “regular” at these events.
Horse Agility consists of negotiating a course through a series of different obstacles and encompasses such things as a “corridor” of flags, streamers and windmills, which move in the wind, walking through a dangling curtain of ribbons, and weaving through a “maze” of poles on the ground.
In addition there is also a “pool” of plastic bottles and milk cartons to walk through and over, umbrellas to be opened and shut, flags to be waved, cycle tyres to be walked over, a podium to stand on, as well as small pole jump and some large sack type “saddlebags” to be carried. A new obstacle was also been introduced this year, in the form of a “pond” of water for the horse and ponies to walk through.
As per all our previous events over the last couple of years, the day was run by Sheila Reed, who is an accredited Horse Agility trainer. During the course of the morning Sheila put the twelve participants through their paces, advising and coaching as to the best way to negotiate the obstacles and also how to reassure their horses and ponies, thereby building up the level of trust between them.
Everyone showed tremendous enthusiasm and for those of us watching, it was quite noticeable that the confidence and trust between horses and handlers continued to increase as the morning training session went on
Following a short break for lunch, the sun really came out and the breeze died giving us lovely conditions for the afternoon session.
This was a competition between participants, where they were marked on their ability and effectiveness to negotiate a course of obstacles nominated by Sheila.
At the end of the day the scores were extremely close, only a couple of points separating the first four contestants and only 12 points between all who took part. That said, everyone who took part was a winner, all having built up that crucial bond and trust with their horses and ponies, which was the object of the exercise.
Places for this event were extremely sought after, which resulted in a “waiting list” being created, in case there were any cancellations. As per our previous days, quite a number of enquiries were made as to future agility events being held.
The Worcestershire committee have organised another session at the same location, again with Sheila as the instructor, during August. However, due to its popularity it is presently fully booked. That said, we do also have a “waiting list” for this event in case someone drops out.
No doubt, we will organise more agility days for 2016. They will be advertised around February next year, so keep your eyes on the Worcestershire BHS Facebook page, as well as your local BHS circulations, as places are booked on a first come, first served basis and they go very quickly!